We have found that employers often have questions about how to proceed in terms of group benefits when one of their employees goes on maternity leave. Many small businesses without dedicated Human Resources staff aren’t sure about their obligations surrounding this topic.
The Employment Standards Act (ESA) from the Ontario Ministry of Labour protects an employee’s legal rights. It states that during pregnancy and maternity leave, employees have a right to continue to take part in employer benefit plans.
If the premiums are shared, you must continue to pay your portion of the premiums.
“Women on maternity leave continue to be entitled to other benefits under employment-related benefit plans including pension, life insurance, accidental death, extended health and dental plans. Employers are also required to continue to make contributions to such plans, so long as employees continue to make their contributions, as required.”
- “Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding” from The Ontario Rights Commission
To cover her premiums, the employee could issue post-dated cheques or negotiate some other method that you both agree on.
If she decides not to pay the employee portion of the premiums, all premiums and coverage can be suspended during the leave. Before suspending coverage, you should get a statement in writing from the employee, confirming that she wishes to suspend her coverage.
Disability benefits cannot be claimed while on maternity leave, because the employee is not actively at work and a claim would be denied. However, the employee can possibly claim disability benefits if they are unable to return to work. Therefore, it is necessary for the employee or employer (according to how the plan was set up) to continue paying disability premiums during the leave.
For more information on this subject, we encourage you to contact your insurer to see what their requirements are, and to read the following:
- Employment Section: Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Pregnancy and Parental Leave: Ontario Ministry of Labour
>> HFG is happy to answer any questions you have about employee insurance. We help employers get a benefits plan that matches their needs, goals, and budget. Get in touch with an HFG advisor today to get started!
Like this? You might also like:
- The Chambers Plan Helps Your Small Company Assist Employees Experiencing Metal Health Issues
- 7 Questions to Ask when Choosing a New Benefits Advisor
- A Simple and Smart Benefits Plan for Small Businesses [Video]
- We won an award! - October 20, 2016
- Five Canadian Insurers Recognize Marijuana Users as Non-Smokers - July 7, 2016
- 6 Tips to Help You Better Communicate Benefits to Your Employees - June 9, 2016
- Introducing the my-benefits® Mobile App, New from the Chambers Plan! - May 31, 2016
- What Are My Obligations to Continue Benefits for an Employee on Maternity Leave? - October 13, 2015
- The Chambers Plan Helps Your Small Company Assist Employees Experiencing Mental Health or Personal Issues - September 11, 2015